Jessica Salfia standing in her empty classroom

In the union strongholds of Southwest PA and WV, labor struggles for health benefits echo in teacher union vaccination efforts

Unions for workers in the steel and coal industries fought for healthcare benefits and better job conditions for those workers.
Those struggles have informed the tactics of teachers unions to this day — particularly notable during the COVID-19 pandemic amid a vaccine rollout and clamoring for a return to in-person teaching. I

Three community leaders who led COVID vaccine events in Pittsburgh offer ‘one step in the solution to a wholly inequitable process’

Navigating the COVID-19 vaccination scheduling site in Allegheny County is like taking an online final exam when none of the multiple-choice options is the right answer; a privileged few are wrecking the grading curve; and the entrance to the exam site is obscured for the poor, homeless, Black and Brown. Pennsylvania has received more than 2.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines but has only delivered roughly 2 million — or 73.3%. This rate is 5.5% lower than the national average. Five percent may not sound like a lot. But in this case, it is more than just the difference between Pass and Fail. 

An increase to the national average (78.8%) would mean that 146,000 more Pennsylvania residents would already have received their first dose.

Commentary: Pittsburgh is America’s apartheid city

Like the children in Alex, Black children in my hometown were growing up in one of the nation’s least livable and unequal cities for Black Americans, according to the landmark race and gender equity study published in 2019. At that moment, I had arrived at an uncomfortable truth. Pittsburgh was America's apartheid city, not the nation's most livable city.

As a community health nurse, I know a barrier to health care when I see it. The COVID vaccine signup process is one that can cost lives.

Health systems that prioritize people who are able to go online for hours, hunting for scarce vaccine appointments, are creating barriers for vulnerable people who often have spent most of their lives pressing their noses against the window of a healthcare system that doesn’t seem to care about them.

(Photo via President Joe Biden's official Instagram @joebiden)

Trump threatened the dignity and safety of Latinos. Biden’s early steps give me hope.

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. In 2015, a presidential candidate, who ultimately won the election in 2016, launched his presidential campaign by calling Latinos "criminals, drug dealers, rapists," here to "take your job.” We heard that hateful rhetoric from Donald J. Trump again and again in the course of four years while he was the president. The damage of these hateful words and labels not only affected our local Latino community in Pittsburgh and elsewhere in the United States, but also our neighbors. It divided us in more ways than one. It emboldened those who had these hateful thoughts of Latinos already, and it fed wrong and damaging stereotypes of our community to those who had yet to know us.

2020 in pictures: A journey through a year like no other in Pittsburgh

No one will forget 2020. Pandemic, protests, the election — and yet everyone has experienced 2020 in their own way. While its effects appear to cut across lines of class, race and gender, 2020 has also been a year to expose and attenuate the profound inequalities in our society. These photographs are taken from a personal account of a shared experience, of a journey through a year like no other. They provide, on occasion, a first-hand account of some of the year’s major events, seen from our small city. 

Nestled between the Northeast and the Midwest, Pittsburgh is unique, quirky, specific — and a barometer of the country as a whole.

Section 8 stigma continues to leave low-income families with no place to live

Overlooked communities In Allegheny County, only 30 to 45 affordable rental units exist for every 100 low-income families. It is a housing deficit that perpetuates the cycle of poverty in the Pittsburgh region.

Today, Matthew Desmond — Harvard sociologist and author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City — spoke at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church to a room full of landlords, tenants, magistrates, housing policy experts and lawyers to discuss potential solutions to the shortage of affordable housing.